Kalyan Rayithi, a national level surfer and part time skater from Vishakapatnam attempts a trick in an unusual setting - Morjim Beach, Goa.

Commissioned by Red Bull
Sixty skateboarders from places as far removed as Scandinavia and Ranchi landed in Bengaluru for India’s first international skate tour and competition in January 2014. The Third Eye Tour traveled from Bengaluru to Hampi and Goa in a glorious odyssey by bus over the course of 8 days. It was conceived by Indian skate pioneers Nick Smith (We Are Advaitha), Albert Hatchwell (ALIS Sports) and the HolyStoked Collective.

Skaters are often dismissed as delinquents in the West and are still a novelty in India. But observe them building new ramps or bowls with their own hands, doing the kind of physical labour that would make most people balk. You can’t help feeling a tremendous respect, not only for their passion but their obvious ability to knuckle down and work damn hard to create spaces for themselves to skate with the freedom they crave. Most often without the help of any local authorities. 

With this courageous attitude and an aura of social inclusiveness that completely disregards a person’s background, the sport can only gain traction in India. 

Czech wunderkind Maxim Habanec jumps over a fence at the Play Arena skatepark in Bengaluru. There is now skating in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Ranchi, Vizag, Goa, Pondicherry, Pune, Hyderabad and Kovalam. India now has over 15 skate spots/parks up from just three in 2009. The sport is growing all over India, not just in the cosmopolitan hubs.

Dean Palmer was the closest thing to skate royalty on the tour. A pro from Sydney, he lands a kick flip in the ancient ruins of Hampi, near the Virupaksha temple complex. He was constantly sought out by other skaters for tips and mini mentoring sessions and was always happy to oblige.
Nick Smith designed and built India’s first skate park, Sk8Goa (left), was co-founder of India’s best known HolyStoked Collective and currently runs We Are Advaitha, a non-profit that aims to empower the Indian skateboarding scene from within, irrespective of social background. “What I perceive with skateboarding and what I really love is that it has this ability to cross cultural and social boundaries with such consummate ease.” 
The undisputed Godfather of Indian skateboarding, Smith, reveals his future plans for India. “The next logical step for me is to introduce more holistic aspects and the whole idea of the sustainable community hub in Ranchi. It will have a small skate park and next to it there will be a skateboard press house to manufacture skateboards, which will be a carbon neutral building. It will also house a unit where broken and used boards can be used to make other things like jewellery that can be sold all over the world for funding. I think this is my chance to do something that’s completely self sustainable, fun and socially inclusive.”
Albert Hatchwell (right, center), everyone’s favorite uncle, is the founding owner of Alis Street Wear based in Copenhagen. Alis has a cult following among skaters all over the world and was one of the tour sponsors, generously doling out free gear to skaters all over India and helping with builds, just like he does all over the world.
Mathias Hall Larsen is a Danish yacht captain in his early 20s and was one of the fiercest skaters on the tour. Even having a back that was more bruised tissue than skin didn’t stop him from attempting the most outrageous tricks, including a now legendary bowl to bowl jump in the Play Arena, Bengaluru.
The studious looking, bespectacled Utkarsh Gupta is studying medicine in Jharkhand when he isn’t attempting a monster cave man jump on Morjim Beach, Goa. “Skateboarding in Ranchi is spreading like a wildfire, through the one proper skateboarding group, the RSB (Ranchi Skaters and BMXers). We have DIY constructions going on but there are no proper skate shops where we can buy good quality skateboards. It is very important for the smaller cities and towns to know about skateboarding because it has the potential to change people's lives both physically and mentally. It has been a life changer for me and many others in my vicinity.” 
Devappa Chandrappa (15) is the child of construction workers in Bengaluru and lived near the HolyStoked skatepark in a makeshift tent. His curiosity was encouraged by Nick Smith and others until it turned into a full blown skate education. He was a winner in the Under 17 category in the Bengaluru leg held at Play Arena.
The exhilaration of landing a complex trick is always tempered by the number of failures that result in painful falls. But skaters are never anxious about injuries, often picking themselves up seconds after a horrific tumble to give it another go, never holding back. Here, Abhishek “Shakenbake” hits the hot, hard concrete at the Alis Bowl in Morjim, Goa.  Abhishek is one of the co-founders of the HolyStoked Collective and a rabid skater and builder, breaks down the current on ground reality, “The scene is still small but multiplying. As far as facilities to skate go we are still in a bad shape. Most skaters end up skating sketchy, rough street spots. This makes it seem too dangerous for any random person to try
Indian and foreign skateboarders pushing the limits on the uneven, rocky top of Hanuman Hill, Hampi. Abhishek Khan, a Mumbai based sports writer and skate enthusiast was instrumental in planning and executing the first ever Third Eye Tour along with Smith and Hatchwell. He feels that more than anything skating needs, “parent’s support. Parents need to indulge their kids in diverse sports rather than the monotony of bat-ball. This will help not just skateboarding but for all alternative sports in the country like MTB (mountain biking), surfing and climbing.


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